IOWA CITY — Jantel Lavender. And Kelsey Mitchell.
That’s the complete list of freshmen who have earned Big Ten player-of-the-year honors in women’s basketball since the award began existence in 1983.
In 2008, Lavender — a first-year player at Ohio State — shared the award with Jolene Anderson of Wisconsin. Lavender earned the honor from the coaches, Anderson from the media. Lavender went on to become the league’s only four-time recipient.
Mitchell, also of Ohio State, was a split winner in 2015. She got the nod from the coaches while Amanda Zahui B. of Minnesota took the media’s award. It was the first of three awards for Mitchell.
And that brings us to Caitlin Clark.
A freshman point guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Clark is a slam dunk for Big Ten freshman of the year; she has been the freshman of the week 10 times, tying a league record. She’s a solid candidate for national freshman of the year, though it will be difficult to top Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers.
How about Big Ten player of the year? Can Clark make it four years in a row for the Hawkeyes (Megan Gustafson shared the award in 2018, won it outright in 2019 and was followed by Kathleen Doyle in 2020)?
As the Big Ten title race heads into the final three weeks, the POY chase appears to come down to three candidates — Clark, Michigan’s Naz Hillmon and Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes.
Iowa sports information has begun a campaign — “The Case For Clark” — with her season statistics, national rankings and comments from opposing coaches.
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Here are the resumes for Clark, Guirantes and Hillmon, with statistics through Sunday’s games:
Caitlin Clark, Iowa
(5-11, freshman guard, West Des Moines, Iowa)
• 26.6 points per game (1st in Big Ten)
• 6.4 rebounds per game
• 6.5 assists per game (1st)
• .467 field goal percentage
• .370 3-point percentage (3rd)
• .832 free throw percentage (4th)
• 3.4 3-pointers per game (2nd)
• 5.1 turnovers per game
• 7 30-point games (season-high of 39)
• 4 Player of the Week honors
• Hawkeyes are 11-6 overall, 7-6 Big Ten (8th place)
Arella Guirantes, Rutgers
(5-11, senior guard, Bellport, N.Y.)
• 22.0 points per game (3rd in Big Ten)
• 6.0 rebounds per game
• 5.4 assists per game (3rd)
• .393 field goal percentage
• .382 3-point percentage (not enough attempts to rank among leaders)
• .918 free throw percentage (1st)
• 1.9 3-pointers per game (8th)
• 3.3 turnovers per game
• Season-high of 34 (vs. Iowa)
• 2 Player of the Week honors
• Scarlet Knights are 8-3 overall, 4-3 Big Ten (6th place)
Naz Hillmon, Michigan
(6-2, junior forward, Cleveland)
• 25.7 points per game (2nd in Big Ten)
• 12.1 rebounds per game (1st)
• .643 field goal percentage (2nd)
• .753 free throw percentage
• Season-high of 50 (vs. Ohio State)
• 3 Player of the Week honors
• Wolverines are 11-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten (2nd place)
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